The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card by American Express is the top-level Marriott Bonvoy card available to new applicants. Marriott points are useful because of the variety of hotels available in the Bonvoy program in addition to the other ways you can redeem your points with their travel partners.
Sign Up Bonus
We have a referral link for the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card with a sign-up bonus for 75,000 Bonvoy points if you spend $3,000 in the first three months. If you want to apply for the card, we’d appreciate if you use our link (for which we get a referral bonus).
There are some truly confusing rules to sign up for the Marriott Bonvoy cards since there are cards available from both Chase and American Express. First things first. American Express will show a pop-up box when you apply to let you know if they feel you’re eligible for a sign-up bonus for this card. The Bonvoy cards have their own set of additional rules for new applications. Here’s an explanation:
Welcome offer not available to applicants who have or have had this product or the Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card. We may also consider the number of American Express Cards you have opened and closed as well as other factors in making a decision on your welcome offer eligibility.
Welcome offer not available to applicants who (i) have or have had The Ritz-Carlton™ Credit Card from JPMorgan or the J.P. Morgan Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card in the last 30 days, (ii) have acquired the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ from Chase, the Marriott Rewards®Premier Plus Credit Card from Chase, the Marriott Bonvoy™ Premier from Chase, the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card from Chase, the Marriott Bonvoy™ Premier Plus Business from Chase or the Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Business Credit Card from Chase in the last 90 days, or (iii) received a new Card Member bonus or upgrade offer for the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ from Chase, Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card from Chase, the Marriott Bonvoy™ Premier from Chase, the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card from Chase, the Marriott Bonvoy™ Premier Plus Business from Chase or the Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Business Credit Card from Chase in the last 24 months.
Got all of that? Still eligible? Let’s go.
There’s a $450 annual fee that’s not waived for the first year.
Bonus Spending Categories
When spending on the card, you earn points in the merged Marriott Bonvoy program as follows:
- Earn 6 points for every dollar of eligible purchases at participating Marriott Hotels
- Earn 3 points for every dollar spent at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines
- Earn 2 points for all other eligible purchases
Now, I’ll admit that’s not a very exciting list of bonus categories. Even at Marriott hotels you only earn 6X points but you can earn 3x points on all hotel spending by using either the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Citi Prestige cards.
Let’s look at what benefits you get with Marriott for having the card:
- Free in-room premium internet (when booking directly through Marriott)
- $300 in statement credits each year of card membership for eligible purchases at Marriott Bonvoy hotels
- Book direct using a special rate for a 2-night minimum stay at The Ritz-Carlton or St. Regis and get up to $100 in credit for qualifying charges
- Automatic Gold Elite Status. Ability to earn Platinum Elite status if you spend $75,000 or more in eligible purchases in a calendar year
- Receive 15 Elite Night Credits to be used to reach the next level of status
- Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card account anniversary. The award can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 50,000 points) at a participating hotel. Select hotels have resort fees
- No Foreign Transaction Fees
- Priority Pass Membership good for access to lounges but not good for non-lounge airport experiences as of August 1, 2019
- Free Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check.
Ways to Use Bonvoy Points
Points earned with the Bonvoy Brilliant card can be used to stay at Marriott properties. In addition, you’re able to transfer points to many different Airline Frequent Flyer programs (possibly with a bonus, depending on how many points you transfer). That’s not counting the additional options of Marriott Bonvoy Moments (which I explain later in this post).
Points can be used for award stays at any of the Marriott hotels. They cover over 30 chains worldwide where you can spend your points:
- The Ritz-Carlton
- St. Regis
- JW Marriott
- Ritz-Carlton Reserve
- The Luxury Collection
- W Hotels
- Marriott Hotels
- Marriott Vacation Club
- Delta Hotels
- Le Meriden
- Autograph Collection
- Design Hotels
- Renaissance Hotels
- Tribute Portfolio
- Gaylord Hotels
- Courtyard Hotels
- Four Points
- SpringHill Suites
- Protea Hotels
- Fairfield Inn & Suites
- AC Hotels
- Aloft Hotels
- Moxy Hotels
- Marriott Executive Apartments
- Residence Inn
- TownPlace Suites
You can transfer points to the frequent flyer programs of over 30 different airlines. The transfer ratio is 3 points to 1 mile for most airlines and you get a bonus of 5,000 extra miles when you transfer 60,000 points. That means it’s best to transfer only in 60,000 point increments, when your 60,000 points will give you 65,000 miles. A change from the previous transfer ratio is with United Airlines. Whereas a transfer to United was a previously a horrible deal, you’ll now get a 10% bonus when sending points to United.
|FREQUENT FLYER PROGRAMS||POINTS : MILES|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||3:1|
|Air China Phoenix Miles||3:1|
|Air France/KLM Flying Blue||3:1|
|Air New Zealand Airpoints™||200:1|
|Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan®||3:1|
|ANA Mileage Club||3:1|
|Asiana Airlines Asiana Club||3:1|
|British Airways Executive Club||3:1|
|China Eastern Airlines Eastern Miles||3:1|
|China Southern Airlines||3:1|
|Copa Airlines ConnectMiles||3:1|
|Frontier Airlines EarlyReturns®||3:1|
|Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles®||3:1|
|Japan Airlines JAL Mileage Bank||3:1|
|Jet Airways JetPrivilege®||3:1|
|Korean Air SKYPASS||3:1|
|LATAM Airlines LATAMPASS||3:1|
|Lufthansa Miles & More (Suspended)||3:1|
|Qantas Frequent Flyer||3:1|
|Qatar Privilege Club||3:1|
|Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer®||3:1|
|South African Airways Voyager||3:1|
|Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards®||3:1|
|TAP Air Portugal||3:1|
|Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles||3:1|
|Virgin Atlantic® Flying Club||3:1|
|Virgin Australia Velocity Frequent Flyer||3:1|
Other uses for Starpoints
There are also other interesting ways for you to spend your points. One of those is the Marriott Bonvoy Moments program. Some of the events they offer a set price are:
- Access Marriott Bonvoy Luxury Suite for the Billy Joel, Queen + Adam Lambert. and Hootie & The Blowfish at Madison Square Garden
- Watch a Cubs game at Wrigley Field from the Marriott Bonvoy Luxury Suite
Besides the fixed price tickets, they also have auctions for more “once in a lifetime” events:
- Wellness weekend in Mauritius
- Access the Marriott Bonvoy™ Elite Hospitality Suite for the soccer final in Rio de Janeiro + stay at the Sheraton Grand
- Celebrate Pride + stay at Aloft Munich
For one of the most expensive uses of points, here’s an article by Dan, of the website Dan’s Deals, who won an auction to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Game 7 of the World Series at Wrigley Field for 1,060,500 Starpoints (the equivalent of over 3 million points Bonvoy points).
For an ongoing basis, this card has a $450 annual fee. Earning the $300 credit at Marriott hotels is really easy as all you need to do is to pay for a room with your card. In fact, I used part of the credit when staying at a hotel I paid for with points. When staying at the Renaissance St. Pancras, I charged our dinner at The Booking Office and drinks at George’s Bar to our room. Shortly after our stay, we received a statement card for the charges. If I’m able to use the 50,000 point voucher at a hotel which costs more than $150 for the night, I’m going to be ahead with this card. If I’m able to use the card for the resort credit, I’d be making money on the card.
All of this means I’m willing to support Marriott and take the risk of eventually being #Bonvoyed when trying to redeem my points. Our redemptions tend to be simple so I’m willing to take the chance, for now.
As far as how to use your points, I hoarded Starwood and then Marriott points for years. I always felt there would be some exotic destination I would want to travel to and I would transfer Starpoints to the airline for the fancy seats on the flights. With limited vacation time, I’ve realized I have enough points and it was time to start spending my points. Luckily, I’ve found that using points for hotel stays can be a great value. I wish we could stay somewhere for 5 nights more often so I could take advantage of the fifth night free on reward stays like I did at the Sheraton New York and the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel London.
One of the most common uses of this perk was to stay for five nights at the Swan or Dolphin hotels at Walt Disney World with points for the price of four nights. Marriott has caught on the value people gave these rooms and have placed them into category 6, costing 40,000 to 60,000 points a night (previously they only cost the equivalent of 30,000 points).
I value Marriott Bonvoy points at .667 cents per point. I usually find redemptions worth much more than that, like when I managed to get 2.25 cents per point value booking a room at the Residence Inn in New York over Thanksgiving weekend.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary